Directed by: Matthijs van Heijninger Jr
Written by:Eric Heisserer
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Released: October 13, 2011
Grade: B+

The year is 1982 and a small group of researchers is on the brink one of the world’s greatest discoveries.  Deep below the ice in a remote part of Norway, they have found a huge spaceship and a perfectly preserved alien specimen.  Their preliminary analysis suggests that it’s been there for close to 100,000 years.

The team brings the frozen alien to the surface and they start celebrating while they wait for it to thaw out.  That brings the “nice” part of this story to a close.  It’s now time for some serious thrills.  The alien springs to life and devours one of the scientists in a rather gruesome fashion (I’d expect nothing less).

There’s more to this alien that meets the eye however.  The researchers manage to set it on fire and think they’ve killed it but alas, that’s not the case.  It has the power to mutate into anyone that it comes in contact with.  They now must ask the question – who amongst them has been infected?  Who amongst them is no longer human?

It’s a great premise and I found this surprisingly suspenseful.  Aside from “the thing” being really freaking looking, I enjoyed watching the shifting relationships between the team members.  No one’s quite sure who to trust.

What elevates this above your average thriller is the rational manner in which the characters act.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) stands out with her portrayal of a palaeontologist.  She keeps a cool, logical head whilst others around her start to panic.  It’s a refreshing change from your traditional horror film where the characters do moronic things as if to prolong the story.  That’s not the case here.

Credit also belongs with the special effects and make up crews who have brought the alien to life.  This isn’t like Cloverfield where you don’t get a good look at the creature until the very end.  It’ll be in your face not long after the 30 minute mark.  Its long tentacles, sharp teeth and wide mouth left me squirming more than once.  

The film has been crafted as a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter movie which shares the same name.  The energetic closing credits suggest that a sequel is possible but as we all know, that will depend on one thing – success at the box-office.